“These woods are beautiful,” agreed Rander, “but they can be a dangerous place.”
“I sense no danger,” Linvin noted.
“We are only a day’s ride from Varns,” Rander reminded his cousin. “Remember, there was no logging allowed in this end of the county before a couple of years ago. With no trade going into the territory, this area has been largely undisturbed. It is undeniably breathtaking, but there are natural predators out here with which to contend. It is good that we are traveling in numbers.”
Bander joined the conversation. “Land that was cleared by the ax men was sold to farmers real cheap. They done tried it for a spell, but then quit and done gone elsewhere. Seems they was losin’ all their animals to the beasts from the forest.”
“Why did they not enlist help to drive the animals away?” Linvin inquired.
“Tried,” said Bander. “Sent a lot of men out. Real few returned. Pretty soon, no one was gonna’ go lookin’ to get eaten.”
“So they all just moved and left their land behind?” Linvin said in disbelief.
“Them that weren’t eaten,” Bander replied.
“You see,” Rander said, rejoining the conversation, “we are simple folk up here. We are good with our bows, but when the trees get thick, they aren’t much use. The predators all nest there for that reason. We can only get a shot at them when they venture out to hunt.”
“Why not use a sword or spear?” Linvin asked.
“Oh that’s not the elf way,” Bander pointed out.
Linvin’s temper began to rise, “Is dying the elf way?”
Rander retorted, “Real elves stick to their traditional ways.”
“You are mistaken, good cousin,” Linvin corrected. “I believe what you are referring to are dead elves. Real elves adapt to their environment. In my part of the county, the farmers grow crops as much as livestock. Why can Varns not adapt to that? The soil appears good and the climate is sound.”
“When you went to the shopping area, did you see any plows or sickles or anything to run that sort of farm?” Rander asked. “We are isolated out here. Even if one wanted to adapt, we have no means.”
“That is a defeated excuse,” Linvin said indignantly. “Think about the economic boom this country is having. You have an increasingly abundant amount of land available at good prices. Your soil and climate are favorable and it is not exploited because you are afraid of some wolves and do not wish to change? How does this community not see what it is missing? If farmers want to grow crops here, that creates a market. They will need to buy and sell goods. Stores will jump at the opportunity to fill that need. Why wouldn’t they? There is profit to be had. If I could get in on something like that I would have a store built so fast that you would wonder from where it came. There would be jobs for anyone who wanted one. The town would grow overnight.”
Linvin paused a moment and thought. “Maybe the reason for the excuses, is that the people of Varns do not want it to grow. Perhaps they enjoy their isolation and subsistence living?”
Bander noted earlier that the conversation was surpassing his ability to comprehend, so he turned his attention to the sausages Anvar was cooking. He looked them over very closely to see which was the largest.